12 Apple 1s turn computer festival into ‘Disneyland for nerds’

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Apple 1 collection at Vintage Computer Festival West
Twelve of the 70 Apple 1 computers still in existence were at the Vintage Computer Festival West this past weekend.
Photo: Erik Klein/Vintage Computer Federation

Only 70 Apple 1 computers are known to exist. But collectors gathered twelve of them over the weekend for the annual Vintage Computer Festival West at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

This is no small feat considering the fragility and rarity of the humble machine that launched a computing revolution — and one of the world’s most influential companies.

“They are the computers that started Apple,” Dag Spicer, senior curator for the museum, told Cult of Mac. “People are completely blown away.”

Computer festival boasts world’s largest gathering of rare Apple 1s

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Apple-1
Would you believe 10 of these will be in one place?
Photo: Auction Team Breker

You would have to ride in a time machine back to 1976 and that garage on Crist Drive in Los Altos, Calif., to find 10 Apple 1 computers in the same space.

But this weekend, 10 or more will be displayed at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., for the annual Vintage Computer Festival West.

About half the machines will be working.

Original Apple-1 manual sells for almost $13,000

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A page from the original Apple-1 documentation.
This original Apple-1 user manual is slightly stained but it’s still worth quite a bit.
Photo: RR Auction

Bidding was apparently hot and heavy for a computer manual for the Apple-1, this company’s very first computer. In a multi-day online auction for this rare bit of tech history, the top bid was under $10,000 only a few days ago but in the end the document sold for $12,956.

Original Apple-1 manual goes up for auction for $10,000

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A page from the original Apple-1 documentation.
A page from the original Apple-1 documentation.
Photo: RR Auction

Unless you’re Scrooge McDuck, an international arms dealer or some other wealthy individual, chances are that you won’t be able to afford an Apple-1 at auction anytime soon.

But don’t give up hope of owning a piece of Apple’s first computer. An extremely rare original Apple-1 manual (remember when computers came with those?) has just come up for sale. And it’s only expected to cost $10,000!

Rare Apple-1 with original documentation goes up for auction

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Apple-1 auction
It's your opportunity to own one of Apple's original computers.
Photo: Christie's

Want to own one of the very first computers Apple ever launched? You very well could, thanks to a Christie’s auction selling an Apple-1 personal computer, circa 1976.

This model comes complete with original instruction manuals, supporting hardware, and “additional ephemera.” However, with an asking price of up to $630,000, you may have to get a second mortgage or sell a vital organ to get hold of it!

Today in Apple history: Apple-1 starts a revolution

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Apple-1
The Apple-1 in all its glory!
Photo: Auction Team Breker

April 11: Today in Apple history: Apple-1 launches. It's the First Apple computer. April 11, 1976: Apple releases its first computer, the Apple-1.

Designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak, the computers are sold wholesale by “Steven” Jobs. To finance their manufacturing, Wozniak sells his HP-65 calculator for $500, while Jobs sells his VW van. Years later, in 2014, a working Apple-1 will sell at auction for $905,000.

Today in Apple history: Homebrew Computer Club meets for first time

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Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak make important connections at the Homebrew Computer Club.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak learned valuable lessons at Homebrew.
Photo: Apple

March 3: Today in Apple history: Homebrew Computer Club meets for first time March 3, 1975: The Homebrew Computer Club, a hobbyist group that helps spark the personal computing revolution, holds it first meeting in Menlo Park, California.

It becomes a welcome forum for computer geeks at a time when few others cared. And regular attendee Steve Wozniak and his friend Steve Jobs will eventually show off the first Apple-1 unit at the club.

Today in Apple history: The Byte Shop, Apple’s first retailer, opens

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Paul Terrell founded The Byte Shop on his birthday.
Paul Terrell founded The Byte Shop on his birthday.
Photo: NextShark/Paul Terrell

December 8: Today in Apple history: Early computer store The Byte Shop, Apple's first retailer, opens December 8, 1975: San Francisco Bay Area entrepreneur Paul Terrell opens The Byte Shop, one of the world’s first computer stores and the first to sell an Apple computer.

Years before Apple would open its own retail outlets, the Byte Shop stocks the first 50 Apple-1 computers built by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Handwritten Steve Jobs document fails to sell at auction

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Jobs document
A section of the Steve Jobs Apple-1 spec sheet, with two Polaroids.
Photo: Bonhams

A vintage handwritten spec sheet in which Steve Jobs called the Apple-1 motherboard a “great deal” has failed to sell at auction.

The document, written in the mid-1970s, was up for auction as part of Bonham’s “History of Science and Technology, Including Space History” collection. Its asking price was $60,000. However, the bidding “only” reached up to $28,000, thereby failing to meet its reserve. A couple of historical Apple items did sell, but for less than expected.